Best breed to start with

Discussion in 'Rabbits' started by PLPP, May 17, 2006.

  1. PLPP

    PLPP Boer Lover

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    I live in Western PA is there a good breed to start with? Can you really make a profit on rabbits?
     
  2. Honorine

    Honorine Carpe Vinum Supporter

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    Profit? Whats that? Your unlikely to make a fortune on rabbits, because the market is so limited, Americans eat chicken and most recoil at the thought of eating 'bunnies'. If you can find and fill a niche or boutique market, and you also use them for your own use you may do alright. Breed depends on what your trying to do, for instance, I have Flemish Giants, big huge meat bunnies, can sell the young ones for a decent price, their a novelty sort of breed so some people want them, could eat them if I had too many, and may someday learn how to tan pelts so I can sell the extra large rabbit furs at fairs. I have Mini Rex, cute, do well selling them as pets, neat fur, good mothers, their meat rabbits in miniature, could eat them, do pelts etc. I have Silvers, really unique fur, rare desirable breed. If I was to add another breed it would be Silver Foxes, also rare, big good meat rabbits. You have to figure out what you want to do and then figure out the breed that would most fill those needs. If more people ate rabbit in this country there would be more money in them but there's just not a strong, constant market for them.
     

  3. doodlemom

    doodlemom Well-Known Member

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    If its fast and its food, tastes good and its marketed correctly many Americans will buy it. I think a line of easy prep "Healthy Choice" like frozen microwave or oven easy one step rabbit meals with the health benefits of rabbit meat written all over the box would appeal to weight watching and health conscious people.
     
  4. rabbitgal

    rabbitgal Ex-homesteader

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    Can you make money with rabbits? Well, much of that depends on you and how well you manage your rabbitry. There are some people out there who make a living raising rabbits, but it's a lot of work, long hours, and it's certainly not a "get-rich-quick" sort of business. I'd suggest visiting Pat Lamar's "Commercial Rabbit Industries" website at http://revolution.3-cities.com/~fuzyfarm/ for a good general introduction to commercial rabbit breeding.

    To decide on a breed, you really need to think about "why" you want to raise them in the first place: there's different breeds for different purposes. While New Zealand White rabbits, for example, often have good "pet" dispositions, a lot of potential pet owners don't like their large size. On the other hand, they're great meat rabbits. So again, think about what your goals in raising rabbits are, and pick the breed that would be best suited for your purposes.

    Being a fan of rare breeds, if you are interested in raising rabbits on a smaller scale, why not look into them? There's some pretty cool animals out there: check out www.albc-usa.org and click on the "Conservation Priority List".
     
  5. PLPP

    PLPP Boer Lover

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    Thanks, looks like something fun for the kids to do for 4-H since they cant do goats in the city.
     
  6. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, one of the larger 4-class (up to I think 6 lbs) breeds would do well for a beginner. If you start with rex, Florida whites, standard chinchilla, or mini lops (I'm sure there are others but I don't have my standard book with me.), you will have a good amount of meat per rabbit without having to deal with the giant size of the other meat/commercial types. I'm sure there are others, but those are the ones I've looked into. Some people ( ;) Pat) have a hard time with lops as meat rabbits, but it can work if you have the right frame of mind.

    Tim B.
     
  7. dixonsrabbitry

    dixonsrabbitry Well-Known Member

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    ditto on the standard chinchillas. Thriantras would be a good one too. there is no money in rabbits. Although you should have outlets to feed the extra unsellable ones into to help at least cover your feed bills. I get about $15 each for my show stock. Even less for those that are sold through the auction, as meat rabbits, or as pets through an area farm store. Heres a list Ive done up to give you a general idea on my expenses and losses.

    Feed: About $42 a month. Since january Ive spent roughly around $190 on feed alone.

    Equipment. $24 for a couple of carriers.

    sales: $93

    Show fees: Roughly about $40.

    All in all I am making -$161.

    I'll be lucky to break even by the end of the year.
     
  8. dixonsrabbitry

    dixonsrabbitry Well-Known Member

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    make that -221.

    And add that Ive purchased $60worth of rabbits so far this year.
     
  9. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Heck, I don't have a problem with lops as meat rabbits! In fact, the French Lop *IS* recognized as a "meat rabbit." Not all rabbit processors are familiar with all of the breeds of rabbits and tend to associate lop-earred rabbits with "pets." They tend to be wary of them only because of the flak received from the ARA's and bunny huggers. I raised Mini Lops for my pet business, and I don't mind saying that they can be meaty little buggers. They're just too small to qualify for the meat industry requirements.

    Now, pay attention, folks... there are only 18 breeds with the "commercial" body type and size required by the meat industry, and guess what? Flemish Giants aren't one of them! Neither are Florida Whites! Of course, *ANY* rabbit, regardless of breed, size and body structure, can be eaten... it just depends on how much meat you want on those bones and how large or small you want that carcass. For the meat industry, however, it's pretty standardized with an average of 5 lbs. by 12 weeks of age. There is no way a Florida White can do that. Flemish Giants, on the other hand, have very heavy bones and their growth goes into the bones during the fryer stage. Not much meat, there, until they are older and no longer qualify as a "fryer." They also have the wrong body structure (e.g., semi-arch) which produces a longer carcass. Processors will *NOT* accept Flemish Giants! They want QUALITY meat rabbits... not just any rabbit. Flemish Giants aren't even economical for the breeders to raise because they are so large and have to eat a lot to maintain their size.

    Dixonsrabbitry.... yes, you CAN make money raising rabbits. There are quite a few people making a living off of rabbits. I didn't want to cater solely to the rabbit meat industry, so I catered to the show, pet, meat and laboratory markets and was also an Independent Processor. Yes, it was a full time business. Catering only to the show and pet markets won't make it... too expensive traveling to shows, etc., and you have to have *WINNING* stock in order to make any money with show rabbits. Even at the shows, I ran a vendor table of supplies and was able to write off the trips, entry fees, memberships and expenses as business deductions. Even my show coat was "advertising." You just have to go about it as a business. You'll never make a profit just from feeding and showing rabbits! You have to work at it. Advertise! Sell the manure! Try some of the Alternative Markets, too.

    Pat Lamar
    President
    Professional Rabbit Meat Association
    http://www.prma.org/
    Chairperson, ARBA Commercial Department Committee
     
  10. dixonsrabbitry

    dixonsrabbitry Well-Known Member

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    well ive been selling manure to a friend of mine for $2 a five gallon pail. Which is about 1 pail a week. But, I mightalso start selling some to a new green house in the area if things work out right. I got lucky and found an add in the paper for someone wanting to buy manure as mulch. And I do have winning stock. But I have a breed that most people have no interest in too. Which doesn't help any. But my sales are starting to pick up. And I think the only way to get more interest in the standard chins is to nail a best in 4-class, or a best in show in the area. I have come very close, and have been chasing those for over a year. The best of breed win at nationals helped alot. Right now the going market for chins is about $15-$25 a bunny.

    I have as many outlets as possible. The sale barn people are paying $9 a rabbit for non show q, the meat buyers are buying anything over 3 pounds for .80 a pound(including breeds like flemish, and coloreds). I took two older chins to these people and ended up with close to $10 out of the two. The farm place i sell pets to pays $4 a bunny. And of course there is a 4h market in the area too. I am hoping my thriantras, and cals will help pick up the slack by the end of the year.

    I agree on the floridas. They are not a commercail rabbit. Although they do have a good meat type for a small bunny. They take alot longer to mature. They are more of a show rabbit then anything else. However 4hers in my area seem to like them because they are small, and easier to handle then a cal or a newzealand would be. The ones that I raised took another month or two to grow.
     
  11. tbishop

    tbishop Well-Known Member

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    Pat- I guess I was looking at it from a first-breed point of view. To me those huge breeds are overwhelming and can make you feel in over your head. The Florida whites I've seen are well muscled and good for family eating. The lop comment was in reference to a quote about 4 years ago from the meatrabbits yahoo group. I think it was right after you talking about the little black buck that helped you catch the rabbit run rabbits that were loose.

    Dixonsrabbitry- What part of the world are you in? Do you know of anyone that raises standard chins in the upper midwest? I'd love to have a rare breed and the chin color pattern is my favorite!

    Tim B.
     
  12. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Hey, Tim.... now that I know what you were referring to about lops, what a hoot! LOL And yes... the Flemish Giant used to be a meat rabbit, but no more. The Florida Whites are a really nice little breed that many choose to raise for their own table. They will grow to 4 lbs. very quickly, but then level out and fail to reach the 5 lbs. within the 12 week time limit. Florida Whites were originally created for a specific laboratory account... they needed the same attributes as the NZW, but smaller.

    dixonsrabbitry... Now, I'm not meaning this as an insult, so please don't take it as such. *IF*... and that's a BIG "if".... you got into rabbits to make money, then, you surely didn't research your potential markets and products very well. As such, you violated one of the strongest rules of business... by not ensuring there was a good demand for your particular "product" (e.g., breeds) before going into "business!" You chose breeds whose sales appeal would most likely be for show purposes than anything else, and complicated that fact with the rarity of the breeds, itself and knowing full well that show breeders would be your main target for customers! When I chose to cater to the pet market, I determined that the greatest demand of the general public preferred were: small breeds, lop-earred rabbits and unusual fur. I went through all of the small breeds one by one in my research and discovered:

    "Nasty" is often a survival trait for the tiny breeds (like Bantam Roosters and Shetland ponies). Obviously not a good idea for selling to the general rabbit-unknowledgeable public as pets! Only constant culling on disposition problems will ensure friendlier herds. I didn't have time for that along with everything else I was doing, so I chose the next size up. Lop earred rabbits were in big demand and the Holland Lop falls into the "tiny" group while French Lops and English Lops were too big and American Fuzzy Lops required additional care for the wool in addition to being a "tiny" breed. That left the Mini Lop and is what I chose. My daughter was already raising Rex rabbits, but many complained they were just too big, so I also took on Mini Rex. So, the Mini Lop and Mini Rex were my two pet breeds for a successful business.

    Now, then... your meat buyer is obviously buying for raw food for pets and not for human consumption purposes. As such, the price being paid is low, although they do take anything. This is what you have to expect when raising the odd-ball breeds and colored rabbits for the meat industries when
    the premium prices are being paid for "white" (e.g., albino/psueldoalbino) rabbits for human consumption purposes. See what I mean? You'd be surprised to learn just how many people fail to research the demand for raising meat rabbits, too! They seem to want to tell the processor what breeds he/she can and cannot accept! Sorry, folks... it sure doesn't work that way!

    Pat Lamar
     
  13. dixonsrabbitry

    dixonsrabbitry Well-Known Member

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    Nope pat. your wrong about the meat buyer. Its breyer wood valley farms. And they buy just about anything above 3 pounds for human consumption. Around here .80 is a good price for them. Most other places pay .60 or less. They take both coloreds and whites for the same price. They send people all over ohio, indiana, and michigan, and the surrounding states to do meat pickups.

    Well I do have my outlets, but its just not a money maker. But, I will say on the other hand that my standard chins are pretty much garanteed to outsell any of the pet rabbits ive competed with in the area. I sold some to a tsc tractor supply in dundee michigan last month. Got $40 for four of them. They were already overloaded with mismarked dutch, newzealands, and a few mismarked tans. The standards were gone within a day, and the rest the store manager had to sell on discount a week later to get rid of them. Ive been selling a few to the local farm store to trade in for feed expenses. The store manager has told me theyve had very little problems with my bunnies(compared to others that people bring in), and they seem to faster then the rest. Its too bad I dont have more right now, because thats where they'd be going. Ive found that pet people actually do like them because of their temperment and their color. But I am breeding for show. Not for pet, or meat sales, or whatever. However some of my younger culls are culled as pets. My older brood stock that I dont plan to keep, or sell to anyone else is mostly sold as someones dinner. Or through the auction barn. The money earned back from them plus the show sales is barely enough to cover expenses. But the cals are gonna be strictly bred as meat, or to sell as meat animals. My show sales with the chins were down last year. But seem to have picked up tremendously this year. I picked them not to make money back on them, but because they are a flashy little rabbit. I love their personalities,a nd they are also a breed thats needs some help.

    The rest of the pet places around here expect you to have a vendors license. But I am not even sure how to get one of those.

    I used to raise mini lops. They were popular with the area 4h kids as pets. but it got to the point where it was hard to sell them because there was just so darned many of them around here(show, auction, 4h wise). so I got rid of them. And I am not the only one thats gotten out of them before for not being able to unload them anywhere. I know a few good breeders that have done the same.

    But i have gotten my hands on a decent pair again, and am gonna see what I can do with them.

    There is generated interest in the thriantras. But mine aren't fully pedigreed. So they'll probably go as brood or pets too. Otherwise im breeding those for my own purposes at the moment so I can get started with them.
     
  14. dixonsrabbitry

    dixonsrabbitry Well-Known Member

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    but it would be nice to make money off of them. Often times, even with raising popular breeds, it doesn't happen.
     
  15. dixonsrabbitry

    dixonsrabbitry Well-Known Member

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    Dixonsrabbitry- What part of the world are you in? Do you know of anyone that raises standard chins in the upper midwest? I'd love to have a rare breed and the chin color pattern is my favorite!

    Tim B.

    What part of the upper mid west? Or state?
     
  16. dixonsrabbitry

    dixonsrabbitry Well-Known Member

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    Plus, Pat i get non showable albino chins for some odd reason. So they are sold into the pet trade, auctioned, or as food(if I keep them long enough).
     
  17. Pat Lamar

    Pat Lamar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Well, now... Briarwood Valley Farms is listed in the most recent Market Report as paying $1.00 per lb. for white and colored *FRYERS* (e.g., not over 12 weeks of age) and weighing between 4 to 5.5 lbs, $0.90 per lb. for 5.5 to 7.0 lbs., and $0.80 per lb. for 7 lbs. & up for both white and colored. I strongly suspect it's the runners who are quoting you those prices... and runners can haul for more than one buyer, too. A 3 lb. live rabbit for the human consumption market? I'm afraid not! LaDonna may have entered the raw food for pets market, but I'm quite sure she's not into the "buying growouts" market when she's looking toward retirement.

    And let's not forget... the Standard Chinchilla is too small to qualify for the meat industry. It's the American Chinchilla which is the meat breed in the Chinchilla breeds.

    That's exactly what I meant. You purposely chose the breed, but not to make money off of them. Yes, it would be "nice" to be able to, but again... those are the chances you take when choosing breeds that are not in the "norm" for the major markets you have access to.

    Pat Lamar
     
  18. dixonsrabbitry

    dixonsrabbitry Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. Ladonna could be into supplying for reptiles. Who knows. She does take in smaller rabbits that nobody wants to take home and just gives to her to do whatever with. I was told by one of the runners(was it ladonna) once that the slaughter place that processes them won't take any fryers under 3 pounds.

    Their prices change alot. I think I got the .80 per pound off an older dr magazine from last year. The last two that I sold to them during a pickup were two older chin breeding does(about a year old I think), that were about 5-6 pounds each. Which .80 per pound on an older bunny isnt bad at all IMHO. theres another company up here that also takes anything for processing that only pays .35-.50 per pound for older rabbits, if I am right. I think its west olive. They'll also butcher and package them for you too. Ive never sold anything through them, even though they are closer. I just don't have the time to take animals to them. and from what i know, they only take them on certain days right up till about 5pm. I work till 2, so it just wouldn't work out.

    Standard chins aren't really commercail. Kinda more like a colored version of the florida white. However some lines, like some of the bunnies I have, will grow alot faster and will finish at 12 weeks, then others. I try to breed my guys to be firm and meaty, with some size on them. Cause otherwise they won't do very well on the show tables.

    It would be nice to make some money back off the bunnies somehow. Like with the cals, if I dont sell the babies strictly as meat rabbits, there is a good 4h market for them in the area.